Chemogenetic modulation of astrocytes and microglia: State‐of‐the‐art and implications in neuroscience

Jo Bossuyt, Yana Van Den Herrewegen, Liam Nestor, An Buckinx, Dimitri De Bundel, Ilse Smolders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


Insights into the role astrocytes and microglia play in normal and diseased brain functioning has expanded drastically over the last decade. Recently, chemogenetic tools have emerged as cutting-edge techniques, allowing targeted and spatiotemporal precise manipulation of a specific glial cell type. As a result, significant advances in astrocyte and microglial cell function have been made, showing how glial cells can intervene in central nervous system (CNS) functions such as cognition, reward and feeding behavior in addition to their established contribution in brain diseases, pain, and CNS inflammation. Here, we discuss the latest insights in glial functions in health and disease that have been made through the application of chemogenetics. We will focus on the manipulation of intracellular signaling pathways induced by activation of the designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) in astrocytes and microglia. We will also elaborate on some of the potential pitfalls and the translational potential of the DREADD technology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number24390
Pages (from-to)2071-2095
Number of pages25
Issue number9
Early online date24 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Jo Bossuyt and Yana Van Den Herrewegen are research fellows of the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO grant nos. 11K0122N and 1140619N, respectively). Liam Nestor is a researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. An Buckinx is a research fellow of the Fund for Strategic Basic Research (SB‐FWO grant no. 1S84218N). This review is supported by the Scientific Fund Willy Gepts of UZ Brussel (WFWG20‐19) and the strategic research program of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (SRP49).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. GLIA published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • astrocytes
  • Microglia
  • chemogenetics
  • designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs
  • CNS disorders
  • gene therapy


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